Six Tips to the Dating Man

Get ya money right: If you’re dating then hopefully it’s someone you can see yourself with long term. If this is the case, you should really start preparing financially. Although I had an inkling about the importance about financial planning and stewardship, I didn’t understand how much it impacts every area of your life. You don’t have to have a certain dollar amount, or earn a certain income, however you should seriously seek financial guidance. Check out these resources: Dave Ramsey and DFree 

“You don’t have to have a certain dollar amount, or earn a certain income…”

Don’t be scurred: OMGoodness! If I had a dollar for every fearful brother I met,  I’d be rich! I talk to so many men who try to over-spiritualize their insecurity, anxiety, uneasiness, uncertainty and downright fear! A woman doesn’t expect you to be made of iron, she just wants you to be real. I know scurred single brothers and I know scurred “involved” brothers.  I know guys who will meet an incredible woman, know for certain they want to marry her, but postpone “putting a ring on it” simply because they’re afraid of commitment or they wrestle with the idea of not measuring up. Let me help you: YOU NEVER WILL! Move on and put a ring on it anyway. When start stalling because of your overly-amplified, idiosyncrasies and fears you make the relationship all about you. This, at its root is selfish, narcissistic and an inability to walk in faith. I’m not advocating rushing into anything, especially something as serious as marriage; equally I don’t advocate fearful living.  

Take the lead: You don’t have to wait on the heavens to open up and hear a James Earlish voice before you make faith steps. If you like a woman, tell her. If you want to date or court (depending on how you define the process) her then be upfront and be unafraid of possible rejection. There should not be any point in your relationship where your woman has to guess or assume your relationship status. You should have the courage to initiate important conversations, including defining the relationship. Your relationship should progressively move towards the future, even if you realize along the way it’s not with each other.


“Believe it or not, being emotionally vulnerable takes tremendous strength…”



Communication isn’t key, it’s the whole door: If you’re like most guys on the planet, this will probably be the hardest for you. Learning to talk about feelings and emotions isn’t an area in which most of us have proficiency. Believe it or not, being emotionally vulnerable takes tremendous strength, and communicates to your mate you’re willing to grow and you care. This also involves learning the art of listening.

Set boundaries: If you haven’t made a commitment for life, then you’re dating someone else’s wife. I don’t care how spiritual you are, how much you pray and how many accountability friends you have, all is forgotten when you’re turned on.  Nothing functions properly except one thing and it will get you into trouble. Despite what we have been taught by popular culture, media, and music, taking a test drive, having taste tests, using free samples and 30 day trial periods are not real measures of a relationship’s durability or long-term potential. All of these ideologies are MANufactured and don’t consider the very real and costly implications of diverting from God’s original intent for sexual intimacy. Condoms can cover body parts, but they cannot cover hearts. Ideally, in a dating relationship, the man sets the physical and emotional boundaries, not the woman. Not the woman. As a man you lay the foundation in the relationship. She’s looking to you to lead her well and trusts you with her heart and body. Don’t abuse her trust, its’ not worth it. When the purpose of something is unknown, abuse is inevitable. Know what God’s word says about his daughters.

 

“Condoms can cover body parts, but they cannot cover hearts.”



Get some help: I recommend every couple have another couple, preferably older and more experienced, as a support system. You can’t go somewhere you’ve never been without directions so ask for help. Take their advice. Don’t be afraid to allow trustworthy people to get all up in your business. That’s called good leadership and accountability.

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4 Words to Describe Marriage

Umoja: The Swahili term for unity appropriately describes the fundamental aspect of marriage. We are united for the purpose of making the world a better place, and to honor God. This is exceptionally important for me to remember in times of disagreement, discouragement, and discord. God has united us, and we are becoming one; a process that inevitably creates friction.

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Sesa  Woruban: This West African phrase describes a symbol made of the morning star and rotating will. It reinforces the concept of transformation or change of character. Marriage will challenge, frustrate, and change us, however we decide if that will be for good or bad. I’m learning that in order to truly love my wife how God intends I have to be intentional about cultivating behaviors that produce a transformed life. And this is hard. Very hard. I’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t change who you are, but the truth is you must. Especially, if you’re like the rest of us with issues and you want to be different. If you’ve done what you’ve always done…you know the rest. Our character should always be on the refining wheel.  

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Ujamaa: Although this term is primarily associated with economic togetherness for the greater good of society, there are many transferable principles to marriage. Similar to umoja, we are united in our ideologies, finances and economic power (ujamaa). We work to acquire so that we can distribute.  My wife and I lived many years raising salary for the work we did and it was a constant faith test. It was often uncomfortable depending on the Lord to work through our supporters. During this time we gained perspective that allowed us to know the value of money, as well as create habits that exhibit good financial stewardship. We now love to give. It’s a blessing to help remove barriers between God’s people and His work. Our savings, investments, and lifestyle are all meager attempts to position ourselves to be luxurious givers. We don’t want to live life making every major decision based on our finances. We stack this dough so we can help His kingdom grow.

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Nkyinkym: Life is full of adversity, therefore we must adapt. Whether it’s internal or external; conflict will arise. How we deal with it determines who we become. In four years of marriage we’ve had to manage to financial hardships, unexpected job losses, family travesty, marital difficulty and more. The measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience but where he stands in adversity, and I once heard a pastor once say if you want to know who you will be in the future simply look at your character today. Ultimately, we are a sum of our decisions and how we respond to what life brings.

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I’m grateful to live life with someone that truly loves God, has a passion for helping others, and is committed to His design for marriage and purposeful ministry. Marriage ain’t easy but it’s a lot more simple and richer with the right one.

The Breakup: 10 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

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There are few things worse than being stuck on a dead-end job you hate, and for far too many people this is exactly what they endure day after day. For many of us, the burden of working in a meaningless occupation, with an out of touch supervisor, and coworkers with whom we have superficial relationships is not enough to prompt us to leave. No, we have to be dropped from the nest and engulfed in flames on the way down before we get the picture. To avoid all of that, take a look at these signs to help you recognize when it’s time to quit.

10. You try hard to find reasons to stay: Chances are if you have a genuinely  good job you don’t look for reasons to stick around because leaving is the furthest thing from your mind.  However, if you constantly question why you’re still working there and try to convince yourself to stay, perhaps it’s time to go.

9.  You hate going to work: If you dread Monday mornings more than anything and days at the office make you depressed, you probably shouldn’t stay there much longer.

8. You frequently look for reasons to miss work:  Do you find yourself counting the days until the weekend or your next day off?  Do you like cashing in on sick days, vacation time, and personal days? Do you spend more time thinking about the reasons you should call in instead of focusing on work?

7. You avoid conversations about what you do: This is not for folks with top security clearances or G14 classified assignments. This is for the folks that really hate talking about what they do because it reminds them of the fact they work a depressing job. Some of their closest friends still may not know what they do for a living.
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6.  You complain, complain, complain: Sometimes a grumpy attitude isn’t indicative of a dreadful  job; sometimes we simply need an attitude adjustment. Other times, it’s a sign we don’t like what we do. Instead of being the coworker that sucks everyone else into their vacuum of despair, change your situation and leave.

5. You emotionally detach from your work: People who detach aren’t emotionally touched by anything. No success, failure, setback, or incredible victory. If you find yourself simply going through the motions then it’s time to make a motion towards the exit sign. Save yourself some heartache and get out while you can.

4. You don’t have any opportunities for growth:  Does your current position offer any opportunities for professional development? How far can you advance in your company? Does your environment encourage you to learn new things that will help you improve the organization? If your company doesn’t have room for growth, invest in your education, or professional development that’s a huge red flag. Anything that isn’t growing is dead.

3. You are not challenged or utilizing your gifts: Can you do your job with your eyes closed and both hands tied behind your back? When was the last time you worked on a project that allowed you to employ your gifts, talents, and areas of passion?

2. You are hanging on for the paycheck:  You know something is wrong when the best thing about your job is the 1st and the 15th . Sometimes we can be slaves to money while still being broke. Harriet Tubman said, “I freed thousands of slaves and I would’ve freed thousands more if I could’ve only convince them they were slaves.” We can get so caught in the grind that we become oblivious to the fact that Franklin and Jackson have more control over us than we’d like. Just because you don’t know you’re a slave doesn’t make you any more free.

1. Your health starts to decline: I once worked with a guy that would get nauseous, depressed, and would experience high levels of anxiety every time he came to work.  He was so stressed by the job he was hospitalized. Life is stressful enough. You don’t have to add to it by torturing yourself with a job you hate! It’s simply not worth it.

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Norman Cousins once said, “The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.” If you’re dying inside because you’re stuck on a job it may be time to develop an exit strategy. Do you know what you want? Do you know what drives you and makes you happy? Do you know what you’re passionate about? Faith is taking the first step without seeing the entire staircase. Now may be a good time to leap out of the safety of what’s familiar and into the glorious opportunities of the unknown. In the words of George Eliot, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Will you prepare for flight or wait to fall from the nest?

Whatta Man, Whatta Man: 7 Signs He’s A Keeper

Most women want to know how to find a good man, or at least, how to know when a good one has found her. Although each man is unique, there are some common characteristics of every quality man. Here are a couple of ways to recognize whether he is a knight in shining armor or a scrub in dusty denim.

Prioritizes his relationship with God. This is the most vital characteristic in identifying a quality MOG (Mand of Gawd). Does he set aside time to study the word and apply what he learns? Does his lifestyle reflect what he reads? A man who keeps God on his calendar will keep you in his heart. It was once said, “let God make a man out of him before you try to make him a husband.” If God’s love is intricately interwoven into the fabric of a man’s DNA, then his hobbies, character and desires will reflect what HE wants and not what he wants. 

“Let God make a man out of him before you try to make him a husband.”


He has integrity: Does he keep his word? Is he committed to demonstrating a lifestyle of superior character even if it’s only in front of an audience of one? Does he admit when he makes mistakes and is willing to correct them? Does he exhibit trustworthiness in his business, personal relationships and family? Perfection is unattainable; however walking towards it is something every man can strive towards. Integrity is a one way street without detours or exits. 


He works: According to Genesis, before Adam got a boo, he had work to do. This doesn’t mean he has to have a traditional 9 to 5, 10 to 8, or 12 to 12; it simply means he lives out Ecclesiastes 9: 10 every day. A man that understands the value of hard work and discipline doesn’t wait for opportunities to knock, he breaks down doors in pursuit of them.  This kind of work isn’t simply isolated to income generating activities; this is transferable to ministry and initiatives that produce spiritual capital. Employees can be downsized and given the cold shoulder, but a hard working man can create opportunities from obstacles .

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He has vision and knows how to lead: A man without a vision is like a driverless semi-truck speeding at 85 on the highway. He’ll either fall short of his destination, seriously hurt himself in the process, or significantly injure others along the way. In most cases, it’s all of the above. John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” A man’s influence and ability to make decisions is critical to fulfilling God’s purpose.  Having vision and strong leadership are prerequisites for greatness, not byproducts. Can he initiate tough conversations? Does he speak up and stand up in the face of that which contradicts his personal convictions? There comes a time in life, and often it’s more than once, when a man can no longer remain neutral. Edwin Chapin put it this way, “Neutral men are the devil’s allies.”


Can he kill the bear: I recently had a conversation with a divorced woman and she said her husband was apathetic and couldn’t kill the bear.  At first I was confused. Was she referring to his inability to hunt or literally kill bears? No, she was simply asserting most women want to know their man can and will protect her in the face of danger. Be it economic, spiritual, or physical. A man doesn’t have to return from the woods with a bear paw to prove his manhood, but if it’s date night and Smokey wants to start trouble, your man better be ready to drop him. When you look at models of manhood such as David, Moses, Elijah, Joshua, and many others, they were all willing and able to kill the bear.

“Submit to one another, out of reverence to Christ…”
– Ephesians 5:21

He knows how to submit: Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit ourselves to one another. In today’s society the big “S” is taboo, but submission in marriage simply means, sub-mission: being willing to walk humbly under the greater mission of God’s plan and purpose. Submission also relates to the way he acknowledges and associates with a strong, Godly community in which he receives wisdom, rebuke, and accountability. Submission isn’t being too weak to drive; it’s being strong enough to take the backseat.

He is a D.I.I. man:  In life we all go through the stages of dependence, independence and interdependence.  A man depends on God, walks independently from the opinions from others, and recognizes his need for interdependence. A Godly man doesn’t need a woman to become a man; he wants her and recognizes how God uses her to help him become a better man. There’s a difference between having real challenges and unnecessary drama. Godly men know the difference. A D.I.I. man has learned the art of keeping God at the core, using other men to help him grow and uses wisdom to make solid, biblical, grown-man decisions. When he becomes a D.I.I. man, he can truly move from success to significance.


Men aren’t born, they‘re made; and in today’s society it’s very easy to lose sight of this and have a hard time recognizing authentic, biblical manhood.  Men come in various packages, but the contents are all the same. They are the most powerful people on the planet, and when a man walks wholeheartedly in his purpose he is unstoppable. Good men can change their circumstance, but Godly men can change the world.

21×21: 21 Things Men Should Know By 21

Tie a necktie: Be it for a job interview, wedding, or a funeral; inevitably, at some point in your life you will have to do it. So learn now.

Wash clothes: Nobody likes funky clothes, especially the people who have to smell them!

Clean your house: I’m not talking about that quick and easy, tidy up clean. I’m talking about scrubbing toilets, dusting and polishing, preparing fresh linens, kind of clean. You’ve got to learn how to get down in the bedroom, kitchen and the bathroom.

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Balance an account: Despite the reality of vanishing checkbooks, check writing is still a good skill to have, and certainly learning to balance an account is essential. You always need to know your income and expenses.

Replace a light bulb: As long as they go out, they will need replacing.

Iron clothes: Contrary to what Beyoncé says, is not cool to just wake up like that. Although you may not have to iron, learning how to is valuable. There’s a system for shirts, pants and jeans.

Learn to pray: Being a man is hard, learning to pray makes it less hard.


Learn to pray….


Shop for clothes: Knowing the actual size of your waist, shoe, chest, and neck, and knowing how to buy clothes that fit is just what cool men do. Oversized suits, shirt collars and scrunchie waist jeans isn’t the look. If you have to tighten your belt more 3 loops, something’s not right.

Say please and thank you: Common, or should I say, uncommon courtesy will never expire. Sometimes it can open doors a strong hand can’t.

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Shake a hand: Please don’t be one of those guys who gives the limp noodle handshake or the Incredible Hulk grip.

Buy groceries: Sooner or later, you’ll have move past cardboard pizzas, frozen meals, soda and potato chips. The fresh produce section is your friend, and so is the natural herbs and spices section.

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Cook a meal: Thank God my moms and pops taught me how to cook. Every man needs at least one signature dish that doesn’t involve ingredients that read, “instant”, “quick” or “ready in minutes” on the box.

Use a screwdriver, hammer and saw: I’m not talking about transforming you into Harold the Handyman, but there are some basic jobs these tools can handle if you plan on living on earth any longer.

Change a tire: Imagine it’s 30 degrees, you get a flat tire, and you don’t have AAA or roadside assistance. Now imagine it’s you and your lady and you don’t know how to change a tire or put on the spare. I’ve seen able-bodied men send their lady in the cold to do it, and that’s cold, very cold.

Jump a battery: Trust me, it’s a vital skill to learn. Also, make sure get a good pair of jumper cables or a battery charger for your trunk.

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Wash your butt: Let me help you out. The following are not cool: biting your nails, having excessively long or dirty nails, uncombed or unbrushed hair,  unkept facial hair, smelly breath and BO. Here’s what’s cool…the opposite of all of the above.

Ask for help: Humility is not weakness, it’s reserved strength. In this life we all help, and the sooner we learn to recognize it, the better.

Sign an autograph: Whether it’s on a contract, business agreement or permission slip, every man needs to know to sign his name.

Visit the doctor: Real men visit the doctor… regularly. Your health isn’t about you, it’s about the ones around you. The better and healthier you are, the better and healthier they are. This includes mental and spiritual health as well.

Unclog a toilet or drain: Sometimes things suck, sometimes they don’t. The latter is when this skill comes in handy.

Get in touch with God: We all need Him. If your appliance breaks down you return it to the manufacturer, shouldn’t you do the same with your life?

 

 

Writer’s Block: 6 Steps to Cultivate Creativity

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For years, I used to think writer’s block was an inevitable, insurmountable obstacle I had no power to overcome. I thought creativity flowed from inspiration, and inspiration was summoned by the art gods in some sort of esoteric, supernatural ritual. Years later, and I’ve come to realize inspiration is for amateurs and there are very simple ways to harness creativity. Here are a few:

Creativity isn’t captured, it’s cultivated. Change your mind about how creativity is developed. Imagine if you were a comic book artist that had to produce a fresh strip of comics weekly for a paycheck. What would you do if you were fresh out of ideas? More than likely, you do what you had to do to find some. A lot of people have been led to believe being creative is a mystical, deeply spiritual process that requires divine intervention. In reality, it’s more about developing good habits and refining work. The first step is changing your paradigm  to recognize it’s an intentional process in which the artist is expected to participate.

In the long run there is not much discrimination against superior talent.
 – Carter G. Woodson

Practice capturing the moment. As a college sophomore I was blessed to be part of a group of writers that helped me shape my ideas about writing and creativity. When we got to the subject of writer’s block, the idea of capturing the moment was introduced. This simply means, as a writer you have to discipline yourself to write things down. If you keep a small notebook and make a habit of writing ideas, thoughts, and inspirations you will increase your creativity by a million, bazillion percent. Don’t miss the moment. Inspirational moments are like snowflakes; there are many, but no two are alike. A musician friend once told me he makes a habit of going to bed empty, meaning every night before his head hits the pillow he records all of this ideas.
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: Carter G. Woodson once said, “In the long run there is not much discrimination against superior talent.” Many incredibly talented people have average ability coupled with above-average work ethic and discipline. As a writer, one way to expand your creative perimeter is to write often. The more more ideas you write, the more ideas you have, and the more ideas you refine, the more you have to choose from. Some will be great, some will be good, and others will be average. The overall goal is to have catalogs of work that display your creativity, versatility, and development process.

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Make writing a priority: Have you ever thought, “I know I should write, but I just don’t feel like it?” Of course you don’t, that’s why you have to force yourself. Instead of suffering from writer’s block, schedule a writing block (a chunk of time to create) and guard it like a mama pitbull over her pups. Turn off the phone, TV, YouTube, laptop (if you’re not using it to create), or anything else that could be a distraction. No meetings, movies, or answering crisis phone calls! Treat your writing block as if it’s your job. A job for which you are the CEO!  

Connect with a community of writers: As an African proverb states, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go further, take others with you.” Everything we know we learned from someone, and sometimes these people are right in front of us. Try searching sites like Meetup.com to locate writing groups you can collaborate with. You can also find people that can challenge your ideas and develop writing accountability groups.

“Remember, sometimes art is a fruit that most benefits the partakers, not the producers.”

 

Don’t be afraid to fail: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s trash is another person’s treasure, so don’t trash your treasures. Remember, sometimes art is a fruit that most benefits the partakers, not the producers. Don’t be afraid to be as innovative as your mind can imagine! Have fun the process and create fiercely. Try the Bruce Lee approach, “Let no limits be your limit and no boundary be your boundary.

There is no magic formula to becoming a great writer or developing creative ideas. It’s as simple as this: the more you practice correctly, the better you become. Sometimes the hardest thing about finishing a project is just getting started. I hope these tips help you on your journey to becoming more creative and unblocking writer’s block.

Brother to Sister: Seven Tips to the Single Woman

1. Singapore_Road_Signs_-_Warning_Sign_-_Danger.svgBelieve What You See: When you see who or what a person is, please, please, please believe it. I beseech you therefore sisteren, do not try to rationalize, over-spiritualize or trivialize what is right in front of you. Whomever you’re getting acquainted with will be the person you are with: the good, bad, and indifferent. What a man says is what he believes. What a man does is what he values. If you see incredible aspects of a Godly man you can envision yourself with long-term, great! Likewise, if you see legitimate warning signs, believe them!

2. You’re Not Marrying The Man You Want; You’re Marrying The Man You’re With: I talk with so many women who suffer from Mother Theresa Syndrome, MTS for short. They try to fix, repair, and mold a man, believing he will magically become amazing and they will live happily ever after. Believing the best for someone doesn’t mean living oblivious to reality. Sometimes you can have a great guy, but he’s not your great guy. Trusting the in the Lord’s prevailing purpose will enable you to develop an open-palm philosophy: you’re open to receive and open to have it taken away.

“Believing the best for someone doesn’t mean living oblivious to reality.”

3. Pray For Him: Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes God will use prayer to give us wisdom about the decisions we need to make. Don’t pray your man will change for your sake; pray he will change for God’s sake.

4. Don’t Try To Change Him: I don’t care how many times you’ve heard it, inevitably some women will still try to do it. I have a friend who really wants the man she’s with to become more spiritually mature. He doesn’t initiate his spiritual development so she often sends him Christian articles, bible verses and other materials to read. This is a NO NO! When a man senses someone is trying to change him, he will do one of two things: rebel or recluse. Neither is good. Whomever or whatever your man wants to be has to first start with him.

“If a person hasn’t shown significant change for a consistent amount of time, he or she will likely repeat the past.”

5. Get Some Counsel: You wouldn’t get in a car and drive to a place you’ve never been without directions would you? Why would you do so with your future? I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have anyone I can trust”, or “I’m not that close to many people.” Well, find someone, some books, workshops, or something to guide you. Just like driving in a car, ultimately, you are responsible for where you end. Ignorance doesn’t alleviate responsibility or nullify the consequences of bad decisions.  
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6. Past Performance Predicts Future Behavior: If you’re looking to hire someone, you ask for a resume. They show an employer what skills a candidate already possesses, not the ones he aspires to possess. Employers don’t hire based on aspiration; it’s based on experience. A dating relationship is like an interview, and each person should assess their candidate’s resume. This is why open and truthful communication is vital. I don’t advocate casting judgement based on past mistakes, however if a person hasn’t shown significant change for a consistent amount of time, he or she will likely repeat the past.

“A good man, with good guidance will ensure he initiates communication…”


7. Keep Your Eyes On The Road, But Don’t Drive The Car: There’s a balance between having good communication about the relationship and trying to forcefully steer its direction. It’s perfectly ok to question or initiate conversations about the status of a relationship. A good man, with good guidance will ensure he initiates communication about the relationship, as well as progressively steer it towards healthy development. However, sometimes women find themselves with a man that falls asleep at the wheel. Consequently, the relationship falls into a “pending verification” phase while the man gets himself together. You’re not obligated to stay in the car while he joy rides, but before you get out, it’s very appropriate to question- with elegance and wisdom-where the two of you are going. If he’s serious about moving forward he will step up. If he’s not, he won’t. In this event, consider yourself blessed. Sometimes the hardest lessons produce the biggest blessings.

Brother to Brother: 10 Types of Women You Shouldn’t Date

In one of my recent posts, I gave women ten types of men to avoid, and although lots of women enjoyed the insight, the brothers felt left out. So, what about all the good brothers out there? The ones who love God, have common sense, are hard-working, and have a vision? Where do they find love? Although it’s arguable who has it worse, the fact is, for some men it’s very difficult to find a lady who is attractive, spiritual, (but not spooky), and isn’t loco.  As you’re in pursuit, watch out for these of women.

Thirsty Thelma: She’s always looking for man, and will do whatever it takes to get anyone that somewhat resembles a man. Her self-worth is predicated on her relationship status, and unfortunately this makes her vulnerable to scrubs, thugs, and bedbugs. Her Facebook status affirms her. Not God, her uniqueness or creativity. Not even the man she’s with. It’s simply the satisfaction of knowing she has a man.

Freaky Felicia: Self-explanatory right? She’s the kind of  vixen open more than your local Walmart. She’s open for business for anyone…and I mean anyone. You don’t know where she’s been, or with whom she’s been with. Bye Felicia.

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Sleeping Sasha: She’s the main character in a story that’s all about her rescue from the perils of singlehood.  She’s stuck in a Disney movie, waiting for her handsome prince to ride in on a stallion, take her hand, and whisk her away to an enchanted land where love lives forever. A woman waiting on a man to become who she is destined to be is a woman out of touch with reality. These women will put unrealistic expectations on men and often play the victim instead of living victoriously.

Kangaroo Katie: She jumps in and out of relationships. Every time you see her she has a new man. She changes men like handbags. Usually, these types of women have issues they may or may not be aware of, and are looking for someone else to help fix. Sometimes they will superimpose unrealistic standards NO MAN is able to meet. They can search for minuscule, insignificant reasons to break up, and it’s on to the next one. She may even try to “build-a-boo”, by having two, three or five men on the side, each embodying a characteristic she desires.

Holy Heather: Ever met someone so spiritual they were out of touch with reality? Well fellas, this is Heather. She’s disconnected from the universe and masks genuine emotions, desires, and ideas-the ones God gives us-with spirituality. She is the, “Jesus is my boyfriend”, and “I’m just waiting on the Lord” kind of woman. She doesn’t know where she wants to go, what kind of man she’s looking for, or what qualities make her unique because, “The Lord ain’t revealed it yet.” She’s a bystander in life, and in relationships.

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Insecure Ida: Every person deals with insecurities, idiosyncrasies and issues, but Ida is unreasonably insecure. She frequently speaks and behaves in ways to seek attention or affirmation. Initially, it can be cute or attractive to think you’re genuinely needed by her, but it’s fool’s gold. Trying to love an insecure person is like trying to cut down a redwood with a razor blade. You will never say enough, do enough, or be enough to give her what she needs: real self-love that comes from above.

Wonder Woman Wanda: It’s her way or the highway. She runs a strict dictatorship, and being with her is a privilege, or so she thinks. She makes the rules, the money, and tells subjects lucky enough to be under her rule what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. She feels the need to be in control and refuses to relinquish her Queendom. Frequently, people like this are deeply insecure and feel the need to overcompensate in areas where they may feel out of control. It’s a means of security. With her, “don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.”

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Krazy Keisha:  Just like Krazy Kevin, she gets hotter than the pavement in Arizona. She screams, cries, manipulates, and is emotionally unstable. One minute everything is fine, and the next, it’s like a scene out of, The Exorcist. She can also get physically violent, and best believe will slash tires and bust the windows out your car.

Cash-in Candace: I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold-digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke… well, you know the song. If she’s overly-concerned about cheddar, then your life will not be better.  It’s all about the money… dollar, dollar bill y’all.  Her concept of manhood and womanhood may be rooted in false and erroneous ideologies that she will inevitably project on you.

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Heartbroken Haley: Sometimes she walks in circles.  She’s been broken so many times she has built walls taller than Jericho and you ain’t getting through brother. She may have an emotional and spiritual  deficit that may require professional counseling. She’s the younger sister of Wonder Woman Wanda, and without a real intervention, will grow up to be just like her.

It’s tempting to be Billy Graham and go on a crusade to try save a woman from herself, but trust me, you cannot do it. When hurting people hurt people, and are in need of healing, the first step is to recognize the problem. The next is getting the appropriate help. After God made the first woman, that job became obsolete. We cannot make ourselves a wife; we must allow Him to present her to us. This means, like Eve, God makes her. He never told us to fall in love, he told us to walk in it, and sometimes walking in love means knowing what paths to avoid.

 

Can We All Just Get Along: The Un-American Dream

Can we all just get along? For a while, that was the famous mantra uttered by Rodney King after video surfaced of him being beaten mercilessly by several white police officers. Those images of King caused community unrest, and coverage of civic outrage flooded the airways once again showing our deep racial divide.

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Rewind time to 1998, Jasper, TX, where James Byrd Jr. was beaten and dragged to death by several white men. Travel to back Mississippi, 1955, where 14 year old Emmett Till was tortured and killed by several white men for allegedly flirting with a white woman. In 2015, we are again entrenched in headlines with an all-too-common narrative of injustice against black men at the hands of whites, proceeded by a rally for justice. It seems as if everyone chooses their political, social, and theological sides when events like this take place, but what about those who feel stuck in the middle? What about those who feel their voice is gone? What about the angry black Christians? I am unapologetically a black, male, Christian. Those are inseparable and intricate aspects of my identity, and each laments every time I see these headlines. I am emotionally drained and unspeakably angry.

I’m angry because for many blacks these stories make headlines not because of their uncommonness, but because they are commonplace. Many of us either know someone, or have personally experienced the harsh side of injustice at the hands of power and privilege. Although America has some very ugly sides, these stories are not reflective of it in its entirety. I am even more tired of the church’s silence. We worship and attend social functions together, but seldom know one another in deeper, more meaningful relationships. Racism is very alive, even in the church, and silence will not make it go away.

Racism is very alive, even in the church…

I’ve always had a desire to explore my American, African, and ethnic identity. I was the kid some people called “militant.” I still get those references. I wasn’t always able to say this, but I love being black. Growing up in the church taught me many things, most of which heavily emphasized my spiritual identity. However, I was culturally poor, socially ignorant, and ethnically immature. As much as it hurts to admit, the church did a terrible job helping me develop a sense of self, and an even poorer job demonstrating where the gospel intersects social injustice and identity development. I’ve been a member of several denominations, but not once did we have a course, sermon, small group series or discussion on ethnic identity development. The church’s silence on these salient issues was one of the primary reasons I rebelled against religion, especially Christianity. The religion I was presented depicted an erroneous picture of a narcissistic Jesus who forced you to assimilate into a religious experience at the expense of your individuality and culture. It was a real turn off, but by God’s grace I have come to know about my identity through intentional study, conversations, and cross-cultural immersion experiences. A significant amount of these experiences were provided by a parachurch organization, not my local church. The underlying pedagogy in most of my local church experiences articulated that becoming a Christian dismissed my blackness and Jesus was not concerned with “that part of me.” I now know this is far from the truth.

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Through study of the scriptures and crucial conversations, I’ve come to understand this simple fact: although my spirituality supersedes my ethnic identity, it doesn’t diminish it. This means who I am, in its entirety testifies of the indisputable truth that I am uniquely designed to reflect God’s matchless creativity. I still grieve when I see churches remain silent on these important areas of ministry. These areas that can often disrupt our congregational unity. There are parts of the body that are seriously injured and have been for some time now, so where do we go from here?

The first step is acknowledging that some of us are hurting and need to be healed. The second is critical conversations with suspended judgment in emotionally safe zones. It’s going to take more than a Sunday morning exegesis of a couple of scriptures. It’s a healing series. If one of us hurts, we all hurt. These issues pick at an old, unhealed wound because for many of us the oppressed share the same pigment, hair texture, and accent of them in our community.

The first step is acknowledging that some of us are hurting and need to be healed….

We must learn to initiate conversations, ideologically re-posture ourselves, suppress the urge to debate case forensics, and transition into the role of listener. We must journey into our brother and sister’s pain to find the heart of God. When we simply focus on case facts instead of digging deeper to the core of racial conflict, we become the ones with stones as seen in John 8. Jesus stepped in between law enforcement and the law breaker in a beautiful expression of uninhibited, impenetrable grace.

In that incident the law created a platform to promote judgment and condemnation. If not careful, we can operate in that same spirit. It’s a spirit that can produce division instead of empathy, and defensiveness instead of authentic vulnerability. If we are serious about bridging cultural gaps and tearing down walls of racism, then we must be committed to educating one another about God’s creativity and how it’s manifested through our differences. Being multicultural/multiethnic isn’t simply having church members from various backgrounds; it means having multiethnic expressions of ministry, worship, and curriculum while not consciously or unknowingly superimposing one expression over the other.

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Before we get to this place, we simply need conversations about where we are and how it’s impacting us. The longer we wait for our problems to dissolve the more irrelevant Jesus becomes to the one looking for himself in the gospel. Let’s be unafraid to venture into some uncomfortable, messy places that can potentially lead us into healing, empowerment and powerful demonstrations of love. Sometimes the ones on the pews next to us are deeply hurting and in mourning. If we are truly disciples of Christ, let’s listen instead of speak, educate instead of indoctrinate, and walk towards healing. Then, we will be able to better serve all of the complex, ethnic identities that make up our congregations.